In the school Catholic identity is always being promoted. We start our day with a morning prayer after the national anthem and say a prayer before we eat at lunch. In addition, we attend mass as a school community once a month, and there are displays, pictures and often a religious table where items, such as the bible, can be found. However, all those components are a small fraction of what promotes Catholic Identity in our classroom. It is our responsibility as teachers to complement those things. After doing a little bit of research on what others think on this topic, one blog really stuck with me. Melley explains that “a school’s Catholic identity flourishes when teachers model faith regardless of the subjects they teach.” (Melley, 2016) In fact, it can’t just be the religion teacher that models Catholicism. When I look back I my education and the different teachers I had, some interactions were more meaningful and stronger than others. Therefore, it is important that we all use our various passions to inspire and bring passion to our various fields and excite Catholic learnings.
As a future teacher, I like to look back on the different ways my teachers use to promote Catholic identity within my classrooms and try to use them in my classroom. It is important to keep in mind that we will use different methods depending on the age group of the students in your class. One method we can continuously no matter the age group is by finding ways to integrate Catholic educations into your other teaching subjects creating cross-curricular connections. When we make cross-curricular connections the student has a deeper learning experience where the heart, mind, body and soul are engaged and the subject becomes applicable in their every day life.
Another one of my teachers use to begin the day with a quote from Scripture based on the virtue of the month. We would have a small discussion on the quote at the beginning of class keeping in mind how we can use what we learned throughout the day. This teacher would also you the virtue of the month as her big idea in her lessons.
Additionally, it would be great to decorate the school in spiritual artwork from each grade and the artwork could change depending on the different celebration such as Christmas and Easter. This artwork could even help decorate the gym or the perish where mass is held. This will help foster a positive relationship among the students and church by making them feel involved. With that being said, another idea would be to have the masses led by students, inviting the students into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
On a larger scale, something I did when I was in high school was I participated in an international mission program in the Dominican Republic. Pope Francis’s words were brought to our attention, that “It is not enough to offer someone a sandwich unless it is accompanied by the possibility of learning how to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that leaves the poor person as he is, is not sufficient. True mercy, the mercy God gives to us and teaches us, demands justice, it demands that the poor find the way to be poor no longer.” The trip we made to the Dominican paid for our flight there and the opportunity for one student to go to university. Living by the words of Pope Francis, we might have played a small part in the community but because of us twelve students were able to go to university that year bringing the possibility to find a way out of poverty. This experience in the Dominican was life changing for me and it would only be appropriate to share my experience with my students. It’s also important to remember that we as teachers can seek personal growth for our own spirituality and faith even as adults. Melley also says, “As adults we must relearn who God is and encounter anew the treasures of our tradition. This is a natural step in the life of an educator.” By keeping a sense of connection between myself, the church and the school, I believe I can promote a Catholic identity within my classrooms and my school.
How can we ensure we are continuously learning and developing our own Catholic identity as teachers?
Melley, K. (2016). Every Classroom Alive with Faith. Todays Cathohlic Teacher. Retrieved from http://www.catholicteacher.com/every-classroom-alive-with-faith/